What lives in faith
Live by faith, not fear
Dear brothers and sisters, I join you in my greetings and support for President Eyring and his family. President Hinckley made this calling to the Quorum of the Twelve for me late Thursday afternoon. I can't even begin to describe the mix of emotions I've been through since then. I've had a few sleepless nights and prayed a lot. However, my spirits have been boosted by knowing that President Hinckley is the prophet and that members of the Church will pray for me and my family.
To say that I feel deeply inadequate is an understatement. When I was called as a General Authority in April 1996, I also felt unequal to the calling. Elder Neal A. Maxwell reassured me at the time that the most important requirement for all of us who serve in the kingdom of God is not to find it difficult to testify that the Savior is a divine being. At that time a peace came over me that has never left me because I love the Savior and have had spiritual experiences that allow me to bear testimony of him. I enjoy the opportunity to be a special witness of Jesus Christ throughout the world regardless of my shortcomings (see D&C 107: 23).
In Doctrine and Covenants 68 verses 5–6 we read:
“Behold, this is the Lord's promise to you, O you my servants.
Therefore be of good cheer and do not fear, for I, the Lord, am with you and will stand by you; and you are to bear testimony of me, yes, Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I will come. "
I long for the Holy Ghost to accompany me as I speak to you this Sabbath morning.
The overriding feeling that came to me when I received this calling is: We must live by faith, not fear. In 2 Timothy, the apostle Paul discusses the faith of Timothy's grandmother and mother, Loïs and Eunike. He writes:
"For God did not give us a spirit of despair, but a spirit of strength, love, and prudence" (2 Timothy 1: 7.)
As for me, I owe thanks to ancestors who are now on the other side of the veil. They gave everything that was asked of them to establish the kingdom of God on earth.
I am grateful to have been surrounded by people who love the Savior all my life. My heart is overflowing with gratitude for my family. My wife Mary is the joy of my life. Her spiritual strength, her exemplary character, her sense of humor and her loving support have helped me all my life. I owe great satisfaction to our three children and their spouses. Together with our nine grandchildren, they were always lucky for us. That they are so believers, praying, and living good lives was a great comfort to Mary and me.
When I think back to my youth in Logan, Utah (in Elder Perry's much-cited Cache Valley), I realize how lucky I was to grow up in a good family - to have a righteous mother who was full of faith and a loving father , an older brother who was an exceptional role model, friend and counselor to me, and a loving younger sister who was always there for me. What luck, too, to have talented and dedicated leaders, teachers, coaches, and friends in the Church who have been wonderful role models for me.
As a young man, I had the privilege of serving in the British Mission - a landmark and significant event in my life. The influence of a good mission president is one of the great miracles of the restored gospel. A few weeks ago I received a birthday card at Church headquarters from a woman I had helped teach many years ago in Gloucester, England. I had lost touch with her. She shared that she and her husband are very active in the Church and that they have six children and 20 grandchildren, all of whom were born in the covenant. That was probably the nicest birthday card I have ever received.
Mary and I moved out of Utah to study law in Palo Alto, California. After graduation, we wanted to return to Utah, but the Spirit told us to stay in California. We lived in California for 33 years and raised our children there. We have both had numerous opportunities to serve. We liked how diverse the members were and how they subscribed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I will forever be grateful to the wonderful members of the Church in California who have influenced me in such a positive way.
The last eleven and a half years as a seventies have been really rewarding. As I am leaving this quorum, I want to tell my fellow brothers how much I love them and how much I appreciate them for their engagement and loyal devotion to the kingdom of God on earth. I appreciate your loyalty and good works. I want them to know that I have enjoyed serving with them.
I also have wholehearted love for the brothers whom we affirm as prophets, seers, and revelators. I have tried to do a decent job and make their chores as easy as possible for them. I am grateful that the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve live such good lives and examples, grateful for their patience, words, kindness, and dedication to our Heavenly Father and Son, Jesus Christ and his restored gospel. I am grateful that God called Joseph Smith as the prophet through whom the fulness of the gospel was restored to the earth.
My experiences as a General Authority have made me sincerely grateful for the faith and goodness of Latter-day Saints around the world. We were in the Philippines for two years. In April 1961, President Hinckley, who was then Assistant to the Twelve, sent the first missionaries to Manila. There was only one native priesthood holder in all of the Philippines. Today there are almost 600,000 members. They do not have an easy life and are materially lacking, but they love the Savior. The gospel goes a long way toward making their lives better. What a blessing to serve in their midst.
We also served in the Pacific Islands for three years. It is noteworthy that nearly 25 percent of all Polynesians in the world are Church members. Their beliefs and spirituality are legendary. Once my wife and I were in Vava’u in the Tonga archipelago. I had just discussed the need to follow the prophet in a stake conference meeting. At the post-conference dinner, I sat next to a respected elderly tribal chief. He made me understand how grateful he was for the Prophet's words. Then he told me a story. Vava’u is a relatively small island that usually rains enough, but occasionally there are severe droughts. There are elongated bays on the island, almost like a strait, which pull into the island at the foot of steep slopes. If the village ran out of water due to a drought, there was only one way to get drinking water and survive. Over the centuries it was found that the drinking water made its way through the rock formations in the mountains and emerged in some places in the sea.
So the men of Tonga went to sea in their little boats, with a wise old man standing at the end of a boat looking for the right spot. The strong young men stood ready with containers with which they could plunge deep into the sea water. When they got to the right place, the sage raised both arms to the sky. That was the sign. The strong young men then jumped from the boat as deep as they could into the water and filled the containers with fresh spring water. This old chief compared this traditional life saving with the living waters of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the wise men with the prophet of God on earth. He pointed out that the water was clean and fresh and saved their lives in the drought. But it wasn't easy to find. It was hidden from the untrained eye. The chief wanted to know everything the prophet taught.
We live in dangerous times. The world desperately needs fresh spring water - the gospel of Jesus Christ. We should listen carefully to the prophet before making decisions. My incomplete private record shows that President Hinckley taught time and again about faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is followed by the focus on strengthening the family and ensuring that the family adheres to religious customs at home. Over and over again he told us that when we live a principle, we receive a testimony that it is true, and that grows our faith.
I know that many of you are concerned about how to raise your children and strengthen their faith during these difficult times. When my wife and I started a family in the San Francisco Bay area, we had the same concern. At a crucial moment, Elder Harold B. Lee, then one of the Twelve Apostles, counseled us on how to raise our children to be decent people:
Follow the Prophet.
Create the true spirit of the gospel in your heart and in your home.
Be a light to those around you.
Focus on the ordinances and principles that are taught in the temple. (See D&C 115: 5; Harold B. Lee, “Your Light to Be a Standard unto the Nations,” Ensign, August 1973, page 3f.)
As we follow this advice, our faith grows and our fear decreases. I believe that if you teach religious principles in your home, you can raise your children properly anywhere in the world.
One area in which members can live by faith rather than fear is missionary work. Prior to my being called to the Presidency of the Seventy on August 1 of this year, I had served in the missions division for six years, the last three years serving as executive director under Elder M. Russell Ballard, chairman of the mission leadership council.
Some mission presidents told us that many wonderful members were hiding from their neighbors and colleagues. They didn't let others know who they were and what they believed in. Many more members need to be involved in spreading the message of the Restoration. Verse 14 in Romans, chapter 10, puts this into perspective:
“How are they supposed to call on him [namely, the Redeemer] in whom they do not believe? How are you supposed to believe in the one you haven't heard from? How are they supposed to hear when no one preaches? "
Verse 15 contains the wonderful words to which Isaiah already refers:
“How welcome are the messengers of goodness who proclaim good!” (See also Isaiah 52: 7.)
It has been noted that if members are to receive this blessing, members must step in and raise their voices.
The manual for missionary service Proclaim my gospel! was introduced in October 2004. President Hinckley encouraged this aspiration when he called missionaries to learn the doctrine by the Spirit and to teach the principles as well. Every member of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles played a significant role in this. Elder Ballard and I felt that the windows of heaven opened and the inspiration of the Lord poured out in bringing about this great guidance. Church members have purchased more than 1.5 million copies. This guide is a wonderful foundation, and the missionaries teach with power and with the Spirit. However, if we are to accomplish what President Hinckley asked us to do, members who live by faith rather than fear must share the gospel with friends and acquaintances.
In our calling, we should not be guided by fear, but by faith.
Our daughter Kathryn is a Primary president in her Salt Lake City ward. Last Sunday, my wife and I went to her ward and witnessed the Primary performance in sacrament meeting on the subject of “I Follow Him in Faith”. I watched with enthusiasm as the children recited the scriptures, told stories, and sang songs that focused on faith in Christ.
After the meeting, I asked our daughter about her calling. She said that it was very stressful for her at first. Problems took up much of her time. Then the leadership reconsidered and put love, faith and prayer in the foreground. Suddenly, mental impressions about a child or a family came to mind. Love took the place of disharmony. As they responded to the promptings of the Spirit, she told me, there was awe and peace, and the children learned the gospel.
What sustains us at the crossroads of life is our faith in Jesus Christ. It is the first gospel principle. Without it, our wheels will spin and we are wasting our precious time without moving forward. From Christ comes the invitation to follow him, to put our burden on him and to take his yoke upon us, for "[his] yoke does not press and [his] burden is light" (Matthew 11:30).
There is no other name under heaven by which to be saved (see Acts 4:12). We must take his name upon ourselves and include his image on our expressions so that when he comes we will be more like him (see 1 John 3: 2; Alma 5:14). When we choose to follow Christ in faith and not choose another path out of fear, the consequence is a blessing consistent with our choice (see D&C 6: 34–36).
May we all recognize and thank him for the incomparable gift, namely the life we enjoy and the breath he gives us every day. At the crossroads, may we always be determined and practice faith in Jesus Christ. I pray that we live by faith, not fear. I testify of God who is our Heavenly Father and of His Son, Jesus Christ, who atoned for our sins. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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